March 23, 2009
Dubai, Bye Bye?: Guardian Lumps Gulf City's Fate with Detroit
Simon Jenkins at The Guardian declares prognosis negative on the ultimate fate of Dubai, which he has slated to be the Detroit of the Middle East, only worse, and largely on an architectural basis. My gut and a brief impression there in real time tend to disagree. But folks with real data and experience are out there. (UPDATE: One of our Aqoul circle opines differently from Jenkins here (disclaimer, author didn't write the overenthusiastic tite). And now, for the Dubai-curious. a bit of Jenkins below the break.
Dubai . . . is ... rigid in format and old-fashioned in conception, based on the grids and set squares of super-planners, and on grand symbolic buildings rather than intimate streets. It cannot respond to demand and supply for land and property, let alone to the wishes of free citizens. . . . I can only imagine that Dubai will one day be seen as a punctuation mark on the architectural follies of the past half century. . . .
Dubai is believed to be nursing the world's biggest per-capita debt. . . .Nothing can bail out a tower if there is nobody to live in it. . . . The same goes for thousands of villas and apartment blocks along the Gulf shore and on the artificial islands in the world's most boring sea. They will stand empty in the heat.
Posted by Matthew Hogan at March 23, 2009 08:56 AM
Filed Under: Business, Private , Economic Development , Economic Policy , Gulf , MENA Region General , Political Development , Religious Minorities , Society & Culture
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Good catch, I was just about to do an item on the exodus from Dubai, appearing in today's Financial Times. This arty though seems rather overly on the negative side. Dubai had its initial boom on good fundamentals, before the madness of pure real estate speculation took over.
I do believe that one can count on its neighbours, in particular Saudi Arabia to remain just cretinous enough that Dubai as a services platform and reasonable place (especially with cut rate rents) can in fact survive. Even for the remainder of the Emirates, a more reasonable Dubai over the next ten years - not based on mass real estate speculation and escalating asset bubbles, but merely moderately more liberal laws, and significantly less cretinous government relative to business will help the city avoid being Detroit as such.
Now, if the writer is looking at 60 - 70 years down the road, well..... after the oil is gone from the Gulf there is really no rational reason for even a trading entrepot to exist there.
Posted by: The Lounsbury at March 23, 2009 05:53 PM
If I may:
Although I hasten to add that Cif-Commenters never get to choose the headline of a contribution.
Posted by: MSK* at March 23, 2009 06:19 PM
Mate, don't be so bloody coy. Toot your horn. Not a bad article. Now I shall have to attack it though. Just for form you know.
Posted by: The Lounsbury at March 23, 2009 07:24 PM
I'm not coy. I just would've NEVER chosen "Three cheers for Dubai" as title since, well, I'm not bloody CHEERING for the place.
Re: "Now I shall have to attack it thought" -- Just bring it on.
Posted by: MSK* at March 24, 2009 11:02 AM
Lounsbury side of the tracks....
Coy was in reference to the coy presentation, not the title.
Posted by: The Lounsbury at March 25, 2009 06:04 AM